“Middle of nowhere” Australian venue frustrates WRC teams

World Rally Championship teams are growing frustrated that Rally Australia continues to take place in the “middle of nowhere” in Coffs Harbour. The manufacturers felt the New South Wales venue was too small to host last week’s three-way title decider, prompting renewed calls for a different Australian venue or for a European round to reclaim the season finale slot.

Since the event’s move to Coffs in 2011, opinion has been divided – with the benefit of the interesting roads being offset by a small fan turnout.

Toyota team principal Tommi Makinen asked “What are we doing here? This is not the right place.

“I don’t understand this. When I was competing we were in Australia in Perth and almost every year we had the rally voted as the best. But not this rally.

“I met some fans who had come from Brisbane, that is four-hour drive up the road and they say there’s nothing, no promotion all the way from there.

“The championship has been decided with nobody watching – this is maybe the reason we have to have the final round in Europe.”

There have long been demands for the event to head south to Sydney, but Rally Australia clerk of the course Wayne Kenny ruled that out because of a lack of suitable stage mileage even if rally director Ben Rainsford felt the commercial side could make that move stack up.

“I’ve been down there for four days driving around trying to get enough distance,” Kenny told

“From a possible base in western Sydney, and we’re talking 30 kilometres out of the city centre, there’s just not enough kilometres.

“In the end I couldn’t even get 300km [of stages] out of a possible route. I had a look at it, tried to make it work and it’s just not viable at the moment.

“You might get away with a superspecial, but we’ve already tried that three times and failed each time for environmental reasons.